Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


SPLed beans
August 23, 2007 6:52 PM   Subscribe

"Finding JTAG on the iPhone": a ten-step hardware unlock of the iPhone, allowing it to function with other carriers
posted by Blazecock Pileon (40 comments total)

 
After Step 1 (unscrew the back), I didn't understand a word of the directions.
posted by rtha at 7:26 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sweet.

Now I just wish I could afford an iPhone, and also that Verizon used SIM cards.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:29 PM on August 23, 2007


Won't be long before applecare is flooded with bricked iphones.
posted by IronLizard at 7:34 PM on August 23, 2007


I think I'd almost rather buy a Chinese clone than risk bricking an iPhone.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:50 PM on August 23, 2007


You can buy clones now? I'm gonna get me one for spare parts! Liver, heart, kidneys.... I'm gonna live forever!
posted by blue_beetle at 7:52 PM on August 23, 2007


People know they don't they don't have to buy and iPhone, right? 'Cause as swell as this is all, it seems like a lot of silly work.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:52 PM on August 23, 2007


Yeah...

What's the minimum contract on one of these, anyway? I figure I'll wait until the first batch of them start going off-contract, when most of the early adopters will probably be bored with them, have them unlocked, and dump them on eBay to finance their purchases of the newest version.

I'll get one then.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:54 PM on August 23, 2007


2 year contract required. By that time it will be old news in the world of cellular phones...
posted by Octoparrot at 7:59 PM on August 23, 2007


For all of AT&T's flaws (poor cust svc, no 3G, etc.) you gotta admit though that the plans are quite a deal given that they include unlimited data. So unless you're pining for an iPhone from outside of the US, I don't really see the need to unlock the iPhone.
posted by randomstriker at 8:00 PM on August 23, 2007


I'm with Cingular on the all-you-can-eat data plan and do tons of web surfing with my phone (Opera Mini, FTW).

However, until I can use a the iPhone as a bluetooth modem (as I do with my iBook--no searching around for a coffee shop) it's off the table.

Given my requirements are that and the most OS X compatibility, looks like I'm sticking with Sony for now.

(oh, and the flashlight function is crazy useful.)
posted by sourwookie at 8:09 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


you can use your iphone as a modem:

http://cre.ations.net/blog/post/tether-your-iphone
posted by empath at 8:12 PM on August 23, 2007


...allowing it to function with other carriers...

Which is all well and good, but what other GSM carriers are there in the US besides AT&T? Even if the iPhone is unlocked, it won't work with Sprint or Verizon.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:14 PM on August 23, 2007


Ffff! I'm sure I'd of come up with the same thing if I'd have thought about it...
posted by mazola at 8:26 PM on August 23, 2007


Jeez. Reading step three made me extremely antsy. The process is like disassembling a bomb. DON'T CUT THE RED WIRE!
posted by painquale at 8:46 PM on August 23, 2007


The other major GSM carrier in the US is T-Mobile.
posted by signalnine at 9:41 PM on August 23, 2007


How much do you think some hotshot in Europe would pay for a few month jump on the iPhone?
posted by smackfu at 10:09 PM on August 23, 2007


Is there any actual JTAG involved here? It looks like they're just soldering a jumper and then doing some stuff over a serial port.
posted by hattifattener at 10:56 PM on August 23, 2007


Even if the iPhone is unlocked, it won't work with Sprint or Verizon.

Another point to consider is that sometimes people actually leave the USA and would rather use local SIM cards than be forced to pay atrocious roaming fees for data and voice. If you pay $600 for a phone, you should be able to stick whatever you damn please into it.
posted by lovejones at 10:56 PM on August 23, 2007


its a pretty great hack though, pulling that address line high to force the cpu to read out of the flash...
posted by joeblough at 10:59 PM on August 23, 2007


If you pay $600 for a phone, you should be able to stick whatever you damn please into it.

rule 34
posted by b1tr0t at 11:15 PM on August 23, 2007 [6 favorites]


what other GSM carriers are there in the US besides AT&T

Yes, I hear there is a vast howling wasteland filled with ghosts beyond the borders of the United States. Whatever the barbarians in the outlands do is of no account to us.

*cough*
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:39 PM on August 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


For those of you who couldn't read this let me try to summarize and explain (assuming my reading was correct).

You can think of a computer as a CPU and some memory. The memory stores both variables (information) and software. But how that memory is actually arranged in physical hardware can differ. Parts might be RAM and parts might be ROM. It all depends on the wiring, and the other chips on the board.

Now the iPhone has some ROM and some Flash memory. The ROM can't be changed, but the Flash can. When the iPhone boots off of ROM, it checks some locations which need to have a certain value. (It's not clear why from the explanation)

But, soldering one of the wires on the data bus, you trick the CPU into reading information from a different location, one you can change.
posted by delmoi at 11:44 PM on August 23, 2007


Ah, the comments.
The red line is covering the A17 trace. In order to trick the chip into thinking the flash is erased in the correct section, you will need to pull this high.

how u pull that thing higher??? can you post the pix that u got. more detail pix easy to understand. thnkx
posted by you at 12:50 AM on August 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


My favorite thing about internet comments are people who blindly ask for help in wildly inappropriate places. It would not be shocking to find a question like "My ATT bill $2000 last month y?" in the comments there.

I'd never do this (you can find a pretty decent vertical mill for $600 if yer patient, fer Pete's sake) but I love hacks like this.
posted by maxwelton at 12:58 AM on August 24, 2007


randomstriker writes "For all of AT&T's flaws (poor cust svc, no 3G, etc.) you gotta admit though that the plans are quite a deal given that they include unlimited data."

Yep. One of AT&T's flaws is that they screw the hell out of anyone wanting a data plan who doesn't have an iPhone. I pay the same amount per month as an iPhone user would, and my options for unlimited data are to pay an additional $70 a month or nothing. Thanks, AT&T, for trying to ass-rape the end users. I didn't sign on for that, I signed with Cingular. Moment AT&T bought them up the data plan pricing went through the roof.

Thing that really pisses me off is that my wife and I went cellular about 6 years ago because we were sick of AT&T's bullshit charges. Now we're back paying them again, and stuck for at least another year and a half.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:44 AM on August 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


CLF: remember that contract buyout is typically around $200ish. If you save $10/mo, you'd pretty much pay for it by the time the existing plan is up.
posted by Malor at 6:48 AM on August 24, 2007



Won't be long before applecare is flooded with bricked iphones.


Wouldn't it be truly malicious if a company "posted" a hack on the internet somewhere just so people would brick their product and have to buy a new one.

I'm sure that's probably not the case here but I wouldn't be shocked if a company like Sony tried it in the future.
posted by drezdn at 6:56 AM on August 24, 2007


2 year contract required.

Not if you do this. When you buy an iPhone, you just buy the phone. You don't sign any contracts beforehand. That comes during the activation process. Since this process can now be bypassed, once your phone has been unlocked, you're free to pop in any prepaid SIM and not be tied down to anything.
posted by zsazsa at 7:51 AM on August 24, 2007


There is another iPhone unlocking hack that does not involve soldering.
posted by adamrice at 8:15 AM on August 24, 2007


Yep. One of AT&T's flaws is that they screw the hell out of anyone wanting a data plan who doesn't have an iPhone. I pay the same amount per month as an iPhone user would, and my options for unlimited data are to pay an additional $70 a month or nothing...Thing that really pisses me off is that my wife and I went cellular about 6 years ago because we were sick of AT&T's bullshit charges. Now we're back paying them again, and stuck for at least another year and a half.

AT&T can't change the term of a contract halfway through. If they changed the terms, you should be able to get out of your contract, unless you signed a new one.
posted by delmoi at 9:03 AM on August 24, 2007


Oh, another thing to point out: Cingular bought AT&T, not the other way around, and then changed their name. So you're still paying the same people.
posted by delmoi at 9:04 AM on August 24, 2007


What good is using an iPhone on a different carrier if:

- visual voicemail doesnt work?
- youtube channel doesnt work?
- EDGE doesnt work?

I can't find anything on that blog about this stuff... DVD Jon's activation hack suffers from these problems (with a Cingular SIM). And all of the above is why I held my nose and signed my life away for 2 years.
posted by kableh at 9:33 AM on August 24, 2007


George Hotz, the 17-year-old New Jersey teenager who cracked the iPhone code, talks exclusively to CNBC [video] about how he did it.
posted by ericb at 12:49 PM on August 24, 2007


George Hotz's homemade video of the unlock. [YouTube]
posted by ericb at 1:00 PM on August 24, 2007


This is completely legal, right? It's one of the exceptions to the DMCA?
posted by smackfu at 2:05 PM on August 24, 2007


George Hotz, the 17-year-old New Jersey teenager who cracked the iPhone code, talks exclusively to CNBC [video] about how he did it.

The one male reporter was a dick. He kept trying to trivialize it, like it was cute but nobody else would ever do it. What an ass.
posted by Mr_Zero at 7:28 PM on August 24, 2007


He was just seventeen. If you know what I mean.
posted by Twang at 9:32 PM on August 24, 2007


NYTimes interviews Hotz:

“This was about opening up the device for everyone,” Mr. Hotz said in an interview over his iPhone, which he was using on the network of T-Mobile, a rival to AT&T...

Last fall, the Librarian of Congress issued an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, ruling that people can legally unlock their cellphones. But the ruling does not specifically apply to people like Mr. Hotz and the iPhoneSimFree group who distribute the unlocking tools.

Apple and AT&T could conceivably sue such distributors under the copyright act. The companies could also argue that people sharing modifications to iPhones are interfering with a business relationship, between Apple and AT&T and the customers.

Apple might also seek to block the unlocking tools with its regular software updates to the iPhone. Mr. Hotz says he thinks his unlocking process is immune to such changes, because he is making a change to the device’s read-only memory, which cannot be changed with a software patch.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:35 PM on August 24, 2007


But you can't really use an iPhone yet! It still lacks cut & paste.

fyi, French iPhone's must have software unlocks since French law says phone providers must unlock them when asked (they may charge a price before like 8 months, but it's free after some point).
posted by jeffburdges at 8:46 AM on August 25, 2007


The one male reporter was a dick.

That's normal for John Dvorak, though I don't call what he does reporting. I don't think anyone has ever written so much about the IT industry knowing so little about it. His primary goal seems to be pissing on other people's cornflakes and making ridiculous predictions.
posted by john at 6:02 AM on August 26, 2007


« Older People vandalising Wikipedia is hardly a new thing...   |   Three Generations of “America ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments